Scottsdale has a new shul serving the neighborhoods around E. Thunderbird and N. Scottsdale Roads.
“There are enough people that live in our neighborhood, where there is demand for a synagogue, and we can sustain it,” said Izzy Yetnikoff, president of Young Israel Scottsdale.
Yetnikoff and a group of like-minded community members had been meeting weekly for services for a few years at an office space in North Scottsdale leased by Jewish Arizonans on Campus. Early last year, they hired Rabbi Ephraim Weiss to be their pulpit rabbi.
“They canceled their lease right before the pandemic started. I don’t know if that was any kind of a divine foresight, but we ended up saving a lot of money,” Yetnikoff said.
Last September, before Rosh Hashanah, the group signed a lease in a complex on N. Scottsdale and E. Thunderbird Roads, near the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus. The shul has been “growing and getting stronger” since, Yetnikoff said. Young Israel of Scottsdale has about 25 families so far and two playrooms for kids.
During Passover, the board decided they wanted to become affiliated with a national organization in order to have an identity enabling locals and visitors to find them. Yetnikoff said Young Israel was a natural fit.
“They follow the precepts, the laws of Torah, but, for the most part, the members are active in the real world,” he said, noting the members of the Scottsdale shul are so far mostly Orthodox young professionals and young families.
“It’s a very open type of place. We’re very tolerant. We have people that are just starting in Judaism — they really know nothing about Judaism. And so they’re coming because it’s a welcoming place,” he said. “There’s really no judgment.”
Young Israel was also a good match, he said, because the organization is very supportive of Israel.
The group applied to become a Young Israel branch and was approved in June.
Weis said he hopes the shul will be an open-minded, welcoming place “for all types of Jews.”
He’d like to see it become a community center where “people can come by once a week, once a month — whatever they’re comfortable with — and feel like they’re part of something.”
Young Israel Scottsdale is the second Young Israel branch in Greater Phoenix, joining Young Israel of Phoenix. JN
In order to learn more about the shul, contact Izzy Yetnikoff at 800-279-6331.